The Dish: Tony’s Subs


Carter Horan

The Dish is a multimedia food review segment co-produced by Will Davis and Carter Horan. Each week, they will travel to a North Shore restaurant to try, discuss, and evaluate the eats on in and around Lake Forest.

The small yellow shack off to the west the side of Waukegan Road in Deerfield has long been considered one of the best, most consistent sub shops on the North Shore (1480 Waukegan Rd Deerfield, IL 60015). Tony’s Subs has referred to itself as a “venerated hometown favorite” for fellow Deerfield and Bannockburn residents. Ran by longtime owner Tony Viti for 40+ years he emphasizes how he built Tony’s from the ground up to make it the establishment it is today.  Some of Tony’s most popular menu items are the “Launcher Tony’s Original Sub” and the Italian Beef sandwich. They also offer salads, hot sandwiches and sides like fries, potato salad and mozzarella sticks. Yelp reviewers rave about the great pricing and superb service provided at Tony’s. It gives customers a “home-like” feel with their simple style and polite employees. After a number of recommendations to visit Tony’s, we decided to make the trek southwest to review it ourselves.

Affordability: 8/10

One of the strongest aspects of Tony’s was their friendly pricing. With a variety of different “Half Subs” for $4.29 it lets customers test many different entrees without breaking the bank. We ordered one full sub of their well-known “Launcher” along with potato salad, ½ Italian sub, french fries, and two milkshakes for $24. This gives most customers a meal around $10 since most people don’t want to spend the extra few bucks on a milkshake. With the large portion size of the sandwiches Tony’s is great option for a student looking for a hefty meal for a acceptable price. They serve sandwiches with prices like their chain fast food counterparts, Subway and Jimmy Johns, while maintaining higher quality. In categories like environment and service where Tony’s struggled, pricing overcame and showed why Tony’s Subs deserves a chance.

Environment: 6/10

Tony’s Subs represents a classic style with their booth seating in the small, cozy joint. Dozens of tables line up and down one room not much larger than a gas station shop. Unexpectedly, the shop was empty when we arrived on a Monday at 6:15 with two workers behind the counter. The busy Waukegan road adjacent to Tony’s definitely doesn’t help attract customers, but Tony’s seems to appeal to many of the same reliable loyalists. This also suggests that Tony’s is a hot-spot on weekends offering an easy lunch or dinner option. It was a bit dirty when we arrived with used napkins and stray pieces of lettuce scattered on the floor. However, we were happy to see one employee was cleaning the floors and clearing tables while we ate. The environment of Tony’s Subs was everything we expected, very similar to other North Shore Restaurants such as Scooters and Luke’s.

Food Quality: 7/10

As we went into the store, we both decided that it was only fair to order the “original launcher sub” and their highly-acclaimed version of an Italian sub. Along with the subs, we also ordered fries and potato salad as sides and milkshakes. We were thoroughly impressed with the size of the sandwiches and the inclusion of tomatoes, onions, lettuce, oil, spices and pickles on the subs. We were also very pleased with the quality of meat on the sandwiches. The salami, bologna, and ham were all thick, tender and had great texture and taste. In addition, the toppings were all fresh and definitely enhanced the taste of each sandwich. One thing that wasn’t very impressive about the sandwiches was the unfortunate reality that they consistently kept falling apart. The fries were average and didn’t really blow us away. They were fresh and as the restaurant notes “cooked without oil,” but they still could have used a bit more salt. Lastly, the milkshakes were good but also weren’t really anything out of the ordinary. They were, generally speaking, too milky for our taste and we thought that they could possibly use a little bit more flavor. Overall, the subs at Tony’s were good and the fries and shakes were average, which left us content with our meals, but not overly impressed.

Service: 3/10

One thing that you can’t change is a first impression. Unfortunately, the first impression that the workers at Tony’s gave was rather negative. As we stepped up to the counter to order, we were repeatedly reminded that the restaurant closed at seven which made it seem like he really didn’t want us there. In addition, it was only 6:15 and, realistically speaking, it probably wouldn’t take two teenage boys 45 minutes to eat a sandwich. We clearly were pretty surprised and that sadly set the tone for the rest of the visit. After the constant reminders, the employee went on to help a cop that was behind us in line and sort of ignored our presence. Later in the visit, two of the employees began yelling at each other loudly which was distracting while we were trying to film and eat our meals. Overall, we were very disappointed with the lack of hospitality that was given to us at Tony’s. With so many people giving us such high reviews of the sub shop, we came in with high expectations and unfortunately they were not met when it comes to service.

Spear Rating: 2.5 SPEARS out of 4